Last month’s lament was about signing off on Book One’s – and Book Two’s – content before finishing the final book. Throughout my current project, I’ve been scared to officially stamp a book DONE until I’ve got all three of them at least fleshed out. I’m terrified of having a comment in Book One lock me into a specific direction in Books Two or Three. I mean, what if my first heroine admits to a bread allergy and then I discover that heroine three wants to be a bakery owner? Okay, a way-oversimplified example, but I’m sorry folks, these are the silly issues that freeze me in my writing tracks.
This month, I’m spinning my wheels worrying over the exterior content: title, cover art, series name, etc. And once again, I find I can’t move on from One – or Two – without being assured that all three books will have continuity.
A little backstory – after all, I’m a writer and I LOVE backstory. This three-book series started life as the very first book I ever wrote. It was a monstrous one-hundred-thousand-word rambler. In that first rendition, Heroine Two and Hero Three fell in love in my subplot!
Needless to say, the current configuration is light year’s different than my first kick at the cat.
Since Book One is still Becca and Jeff’s story – beefed up and improved (I hope) – my plan is to keep the original title: Peace of Heart. I’ve already invested in a beautiful cover. The cover couple are nearly perfect, their posture exactly what I had imagined, and my cover artist, Fiona Jade, suggested we go with a black and white image, which helps give it a romantic suspense vibe. I’m thrilled with the end product and can’t wait to finish my edits and introduce my baby to the world.
Here’s where the worrywarting comes in. Not only wasn’t this story not originally intended to be a series, but I don’t normally write romantic suspense. Therefore, my working titles and tentative cover images for the other two books aren’t very Romantic-Suspense-y. Even worse, I don’t have a catchy, series-name-inspiring hook that ties these three stories together. BUT…looking at current romance marketing trends, series sells, and to sell well, they seem to need a catchy series name and similar titles.
So what’s a newbie independent author to do? Should I buck convention and take a risk on doing something different? Should I eat the investment I’ve already made in my beautiful cover and start over? Should I set my babies loose in the world without an obvious series tie? Should I quit worrywarting and finish Book Three?
That last one’s easy. Yes! As for the others – I’m beginning to see the advantage of all those employees at the big publishing houses: editors; copywriters, art department, publicists, etc. Surely, in the traditional publishing world, those people would be around to offer time-tested opinions. Of course, they would probably be opinions I didn’t like or agree with, but what the hay? The grass is always greener, right?
The big question here is, have learned anything from all this worrywarting? My answer: Maybe.
I’ve learned writers need to add another word to our vernacular: planner. It falls halfway between plotter and pantser. Planner. It fits me. The more I learn my own process, the more I realize I need an outline, not only for each book but for the entire series, in order to feel confident and secure in my output. I’ve never been one to make a “story board,” but I’m thinking it might be a good exercise for me.
Worrying is a form of procrastination, and not even the productive kind. Writing time spent doing anything but putting words on the page is a waste of time. In theory, I know this. In practice, I’m a procrastination repeat offender.
Mostly, I’ve learned that quite often, the answers I’m worrying over come to me as I’m writing, critiquing and/or editing my work. I still haven’t made any decisions about a series title that ties these three books together, but this week, I got to THE END of Book Two’s first draft, and in that final chapter, I found the answers to half-a-dozen pending worrywart issues for Book Three. I could have stopped writing and spent my time spinning my feeble mental gears “what-iffing” my remaining question marks in Book Three, but only when I pushed through and discovered how Book Two wrapped up was I able to “see” where Book Three began and get a glimpse of how those two rascally characters would bring my over-arching plot thread to a conclusion.
A running plot thread in my own life is my fear of success, and as I’m compiling my thoughts here, I realize that worrywarting is just more of the same. If I’m unwilling to plow forward in the writing of my stories with a few question marks hanging over my head, then I’ll never finish my stories, and if I never finish my stories, I won’t have to worry (pun intended) about whether or not they’ll be a success. And – gasp! – my worst fear ever: If I write a good book, the collective they might expect me to do it again. Talk about serious nightmare fodder.
So, yes, I have learned something from all this worrywarting. I need to stop. But like all bad habits, I know I won’t be able to quit cold turkey. Guess I’ll have to find a support group. Anyone out there wanna join?
Back when her twin sons were young enough for daily naps, Dawn Temple took advantage of those quiet moments to pursue her dream of becoming a published romance writer. Sneaking in an hour here and there paid off in 2005 when she sold her first book, To Have And To Hold, to Silhouette Special Edition. She managed to secret away enough time to write and sell the second book in her Land’s Cross series, Moonlight And Mistletoe, but alas, her boys outgrew naps and Dawn let go of those stolen moments with her laptop to enjoy life with her two little guys and her big guy, hubby of 21 years.
But now, as an officially retired stay-at-home mom, Dawn has once again found the time and the creative drive to return to writing, and this time around, she’s set her sights on independent publishing. Her first self-published book, Peace of Heart, is scheduled for release in 2017.